UFC 232: Jones KOs Gustafsson and reignites rivalry with Cormier

What a night it was!

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On a night that saw a packed crowd including WWE star Mick Foley, everybody’s favourite Bond girl Halle Berry and the legend that is AC Slater (or Mario Lopez, to his mum), Los Angeles was treated to a huge night of fights as the stars of UFC 232 served up a feast of finishes at The Forum in Inglewood on Saturday night.

In all there were 10 finishes from the 13 fights on the card, but the two finishes everybody is talking about came in the two title fights at the top of the card.

BONES IS BACK

He couldn’t say the word “picograms” in the pre-fight press conference, but Jon Jones certainly didn’t fluff his lines in the main event, as he finished Alexander Gustafsson in the third round after a dominant performance.

And after the fight he quickly turned his attention to his old rival, calling out Daniel Cormier for a third fight to settle the score over the UFC’s light-heavyweight belt.

“I mean, what guy just gives up his belt because somebody else made it home?” mocked Jones, just 24 hours after Cormier opted to relinquish the title rather than be stripped of it on fight night.

“Daddy’s home, DC.”

Then he laid down the gauntlet, daring Cormier to come back down to 205lbs one more time to legitimise his time as UFC light-heavyweight champion.

“Prove to the fans you’re a ‘champ champ’,” said Jones.

“Come get a taste, I’m here. Get your belt back. I’ll be waiting right here.”

Obviously, it’s something that people are getting all excited about – and we’ll be right there for it if Jones-Cormier III ever happens. But there’s a very good reason why Jones is doing this.

There’s virtually nobody else left at 205lbs and he doesn’t fancy a crack at heavyweight (at least, not yet).

So, knowing he still has to rake in the readies as a light-heavyweight, he did the smart thing and picked away at Cormier’s legacy.

“He works his hardest to try to discredit and try to delegitimise the fact I beat him twice,” he said at the post-fight presser.

“And the only thing I want to delegitimise as a retaliation is his claim of being the light-heavyweight champion.

“He was never the light-heavyweight champion. He never beat me. This has been my era since 2011. I want to make that loud and clear. DC is no ‘champ champ.’”

Ouch!

Then Jones laid down the challenge, saying he’d fight Cormier one more time, but as a light-heavyweight, not a heavyweight.

“The only way he can shut me up on what I’m saying right now is to beat my ass. Simple,” he said.

“Me going to heavyweight would be making it extremely personal. And for me, I have no problem with DC. I have a problem when he comes out and goes ‘See I told you guys he’s a cheater! I told you he’s a cheater!’.

“I have no real problem with DC. I’m not going to go to heavyweight and try to take everything from him and destroy his legacy and all that type of stuff.

“Is it possible that I could do that? It is possible. But I’m fine having mine, and he can have his.

“DC needs to admit to the people that he was never the light-heavyweight champion, or face me at light-heavyweight and shut me up.”

GONE IN 51 SECONDS

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes was the betting underdog ahead of her UFC featherweight title challenge against reigning champion Cris Cyborg and the overwhelming majority of punting prognosticators – including yours truly – confidently predicted victory for Cyborg.

Well, we were all wrong!

Earlier in the week I wrote: “Nunes has a puncher’s chance, but against Cyborg she’ll have to get it done quick before she gets caught herself.”

Well, she certainly got it done quick!

It took “The Lioness” just 51 seconds and 26 strikes to snap Cyborg’s 15-year undefeated streak and rip the UFC featherweight title from her grasp. It was jaw-droppingly good.

There’s always the danger of people going overboard after big wins, but in this case, it’s entirely justified. Nunes didn’t just beat Cyborg, she demolished her at her own game, and in double-quick time, too.

Incredibly, Cyborg lasted just three seconds longer than Ronda Rousey managed against Nunes back at UFC 207 as the Brazilian completed a hat-trick of wins against UFC women’s legends, with her wins against Cyborg and Rousey joining her bantamweight title-winning submission of Miesha Tate at UFC 200.

ALEXANDER ‘THE GREAT’ LIVES UP TO HIS BILLING

Former rugby player-turned-mixed martial artist Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski earned a career-best win – and a cool $50,000 bonus – for his stoppage win over three-time title challenger Chad Mendes.

The main card opener was the clear winner of the Fight of the Night bonus, as both men went back and forth in a cracking contest that saw Volkanovski dropped, only to leap back to his feet, flash a knowing grin at his opponent, then go on to stop him with punishing punches of his own.

Volkanovski then gently turned up the heat on current UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway by declaring himself the Hawaiian’s “worst nightmare”.

With Holloway clearing house at the top of the UFC featherweight division, the reigning champion may well welcome some fresh blood at the top of the division as he maps out his campaign for 2019.

Find the latest MMA odds over at paddypower.com